Apple has just released iTunes 11.1, the update to iTunes that brings iTunes Radio to its desktop music software. The Pandora-like streaming music service offers custom stations based on artists and genres, with ad-free streaming for those with iTunes Match subscriptions, or on an ad-supported basis completely free, with track skipping included.
The other big thing this update brings relevant to today is iOS 7 device support, which is necessary for those looking to update and sync their devices via the desktop when that new mobile OS goes live, likely in a couple of hours. If you still sync with your desktop regularly (I’ve stopped long ago thanks to iCloud), then you need to get downloading now to keep things running smoothly post-update.
Also new are the handy Podcast Stations, which allows you to make custom stations with the podcasts you follow regularly, which automatically update new episodes and sync playback position for each episode across devices. That’s a nice feature to have if you’re a commuter who regularly gets their podcast fix on the way to and from work, for instance.
One more new feature is Genius Shuffle, which you can use to play what iTunes determines are complimentary songs from your collection. I still miss iTunes DJ, but this is a feature that should help in similar situations, like when you’re soundtracking a party.
If you’ve been eager to try iTunes Radio, which really is a capable competitor to the best streaming radio services out there already, then this is your first chance, since it comes before iOS 7 hits. Also remember that iTunes Radio is for U.S. iTunes account holders only for now, with no word on when international users will gain access just yet.